Rocking Around The Christmas Tree With POPLIN PJs


Happy Friday all! Hopefully, many of you are starting to wind down for the holidays, resting and able to enjoy some time with family over the coming days and weeks.

As of today, we are officially in Christmas mode, and if you ask us, nothing says Christmas like watching movies in your PJs all day and sneaking some chocolates that are supposed to be reserved for the 25th.

This week, we were lucky enough to chat to Lucy Guinness, the CEO and Founder of POPLIN PJs, the London-based pyjama brand.

Lucy chatted to us about her career trajectory, where she found her inspiration for POPLIN PJs and her strategies for success. 

So, as always, grab your morning drink of choice, get comfy and just keep reading for your weekly dose of inspiration...

Welcome, Lucy! Lovely to have you. Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?

Thanks for having me! I grew up in a big family, the second of six children. Our house was busy, noisy, messy and chaotic. Both of my parents are doctors and we were left to our own devices quite a bit so we were always inventing games, dressing up for plays and hatching secret plans. We had a children's realm that the grown-ups weren't really given any access to. I think it allowed me to develop my imagination. 

That sounds wonderful! My sister and I had a similar situation actually. So, how did you get started in the fashion industry?

I had a bit of a bluestocking route into fashion. I read English at Oxford and then did a Masters at the Courtauld Institute in London in the History of Fashion. At that point, I thought I wanted to be a museum curator and work somewhere like the V&A where we used to have amazing classes in the archives, looking close-up at the most exquisite fashion. But ultimately the pace of a job in a museum department didn't suit me and I got my first job (after an inevitable interning stint) at a Trends Forecasting agency on their Travel and Arts desk. We covered 150 cities, putting together inspirational guides for fashion professionals and insiders who subscribed to the publication.  

"POPLIN never uses synthetic materials. We always use 100% cotton and silk. To me, that's just intuitive and I cannot imagine using anything other than the softest, most luxurious fabrics that I can source."

What an interesting role! How did your career trajectory go after that? Was it some time before you decided to start up POPLIN? Was the timing important?

After the Trends Forecasting job, I went to live in India with my (now) husband and continued writing, but freelance, for various publications. This was almost 10 years ago and the idea of "loungewear" really hadn't opened up yet. Through the time spent writing at home, I was inspired to refocus on a sort of homewear/workwear hybrid. I wanted to create something that was incredibly easy and comfortable but also looked pulled together. I was inspired by brands that did one thing really well. 

Wow! It’s funny how relevant that idea has become when you fast-forward to 2020; the year that everyone began to work from home. In what ways do you consider sensitive skin/allergies throughout the process of selecting fabrics and materials? 

Well firstly, POPLIN never uses synthetic materials. We always use 100% cotton and silk. To me, that's just intuitive and I cannot imagine using anything other than the softest, most luxurious fabrics that I can source. My mother is a dermatologist and she would always look inside garments to check what they were made from, so perhaps I got it from her! 

I really believe that wearing beautiful PJs is as much about the sensation as it is about the aesthetic. These garments are meant to be lived in and enjoyed, not to take uncomfortable, if flattering, selfies in! 

That is a really great point! If anything, when you wear PJs you should be at your maximum comfort level. Do you think people are more conscious of the materials and fabrics in their clothes nowadays? If so, why?

I think there's a certain section of the market that is, but it would be naive to ignore the power of those online fashion retailers that push the idea of super cheap, disposable fashion. 

Absolutely! You see things on sale for just a couple of pounds on some websites and selling out in minutes, so it’s clear that some consumers are still buying into fast-fashion. What were your biggest challenges in starting up POPLIN? 

Manufacturing, definitely! It is relatively easy to perfect samples, but scaling that up for production, especially if you want to maintain a realistic price point, is incredibly hard. I found and fell out of love with many, many factories before finding my current manufacturing partner. 

I can imagine! It’s a pretty massive undertaking. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of POPLIN?

Sticking to the idea of perfecting just one thing. Over the years, people have admired vintage dresses and other pieces that I have sourced and suggested that I should create dresses for my line too. But I think there is something powerful and reassuring in holding onto your niche; people know that they can go to POPLIN and get the best PJs and nightshirts. 

Totally! You’ve really stayed true to that niche and evolved, which is what consumers want out of a brand. What inspires you?

In the hustle and bustle of a city like Mumbai, where we lived, your home can feel like a real sanctuary and I think POPLIN pieces are an extension of that. I can think of certain really chic Indian homes that inspired me. You would step through the doorway, take off your shoes and smell the most delicious scent of Jasmine. Changing into something soft, luxurious and easy is a ritual that lets you transition from one part of your day into the next. 

"I love the luxurious weight of the silk, the shape of the collar, and how easy they are to slip into."

That calming, luxurious aura definitely permeates the POPLIN collections. What is your favourite thing about your job?

The variety and the satisfaction I feel in creating an amazing experience for our customers... and seeing them return to shop with us again!  

And which is your favourite piece that you’ve created?

This is a very tricky question. To me, the Silk Nightshirts are pretty perfect. I love the luxurious weight of the silk, the shape of the collar, and how easy they are to slip into. You just feel instantly happier with one of the Silk Nightshirts on!

We had to go back into hospital with my little boy a few days after he was born and I remember wearing my POPLN silk nightshirt, under really tricky circumstances. But the piece really helped me to feel like myself and wearing it reminded me somehow that there was a lovely world out there, beyond the incredibly depressing hospital ward!

It's amazing how powerful clothing can be sometimes. Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?

Growing up I actually wanted to be a ballerina. I was completely obsessed with dancing! Then, a few days ago, as I was watching my almost-four-year-old daughter through the window of her ballet class in Brooklyn, I had a definite "pinch-me" moment. It was quite surreal actually because she was in her timeless pale pink ballet outfit, yet wearing a mask that reflects the moment we’re all living through in this pandemic. I also felt quite overwhelmed to be in New York, far from where I grew up in Britain, seeing my own daughter discover the joy of dancing and moving her body... Inside I still feel like that little girl in her ballet class. 

Thank you for sharing that! It must have been such a joyous moment for you. Do you think you have a work/life balance?

You are asking me at an interesting juncture in my life... Right now, I feel lucky to have a work/life balance, but I am due to have my third baby in a couple of weeks so the cards will all be reshuffled. I'm sure life will look very different and probably far less balanced with the addition of a newborn.

Congratulations! What an exciting time for you and your family! What words do you live by?

These aren't necessarily mantras I use for business, but rather for life. I find comfort in two phrases: "This too shall pass" and "It's only for a season..." 

Those are really useful ones! They’re going on my list! Finally, what’s next for POPLIN?

I'm working on a collection for Spring/Summer 2021 when, hopefully, we will all be packing suitcases again. I hope we’ll all be heading off on adventures with just the essentials… which, of course, includes the perfect pair of PJs! 

Liked what you read? Head to the POPLIN PJs site to shop now!

Alternatively, if you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: The Ultimate Review of UFO 2 By Foreo Sweden- Is It Worth It?

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Gabriela - Editor
Gabriela - Editor

Gabriela is a London-based writer and creative, working in marketing. Her favourite skincare product is Darphin’s Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


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